Carl Landegger raps for his students every Friday. The design educator at New York City’s High School of Art and Design came up with “Freestyle Fridays” during the pandemic to keep students feeling creative during the monotony of remote learning.
“Teaching kind of takes over your life,” he says, with a giant smile. “We were just trying to keep things more engaging, but now my students really want me to start a TikTok page to showcase all the freestyles.”
Carl is not a TikTok user. His students, however, know more than a thing or two about the platform. For six months, Carl’s after-school program, a creative agency called A and D Creates, partnered with Movement Strategy to develop a TikTok strategy for one of Movement’s clients.
The school’s agency is a superhero team of students from all parts of the High School of Art and Design, or HSAD: animation, architecture, cartooning, fashion, film, graphic design, illustration and photography. They work with real clients regularly and get internship credits through the Department of Education. The students get paid minimum wage for their work, and since the agency is a not-for-profit, some clients pay in scholarships. Movement provided a $10,000 scholarship to the AND Creates team, which Carl says will be broken up in four ways to top-performing students, with performance encompassing the project, attendance and an essay.
“Giving these opportunities to these students gives them a voice, an opportunity to make a difference,”
Colette Gardner, Movement Strategy’s Director of People and Culture, says that this initiative was developed to work with younger, minority communities. HSAD’s students, and the ANDCreates demographics at large, Carl says, are very diverse, with a large number of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ students.
“Giving these opportunities to these students gives them a voice, an opportunity to make a difference,” Carl says. “I was raised by a gay man and I’m an immigrant, and I feel like my students’ stories are my stories.”
The relationship is symbiotic. While the students get a look into professional social media marketing and additional internship opportunities, Movement benefits as well, Colette says.
“After seeing the students present to the client, I’ve never felt so good. The amount of work and artistry they put in was the work of professionals and they are 15, 16, and 17 years old.”
Carl met with Movement’s Group Account Director Kevin Smith to kick off the partnership in the fall of 2020. When Kevin asked Carl what the ANDCreates agency really wanted, Carl’s answer was simple: “One of your clients.”
Movement decided the project would be to create a TikTok strategy for Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes, a brand Movement has developed a strong social media persona for, with digital and in-person events that ultimately increased Looney Tunes’ social engagement by more than 1,500%.
The students were thrilled when Carl told them about the brand and the project details.
“We had an initial call with the students to walk through the project and have them ask questions, and then from that point forward, we met every other week,” Kevin says. “The time was what we called mentor sessions with the project management leads, creative team and strategy lead from the Looney Tunes account, where they could ask us questions about the process of building their presentations and get our thoughts on it.”
Carl says it was a highlight for students to learn from the Movement Team. He remembers Rachel Schneer, Strategy Director at Movement Strategy, particularly pushing the team to narrow down their thinking when considering an engagement strategy, a growth strategy or a retention strategy.
“We have so many characters, and their personalities really shine with the Movement team,” Carl says. “My goal as a teacher has been to bring these opportunities to students to let them soar in the professional world.”
Kevin says the students delivered way more than he expected, especially as the client didn’t provide the students with any assets or intellectual property to work with, so it was up to the students to design and illustrate where necessary.
“They really blew my mind,” Kevin says. “And they were just so enthusiastic and so excited and it was genuinely a rewarding experience, especially over the course of the six-month engagement to see the final presentation.”
The ANDCreates team presented to Warner Bros., Movement’s creative team, Colette from the Positive Impact and People and Culture Teams and Jason Mitchell, Movement’s CEO. Their presentation was 100 slides long.
“We had a lot to teach them in regards to how to structure a presentation, build a strategy, set up a creative idea and lay out a slide,” Kevin says. “The clients were pretty blown away by the presentation and how seriously the students took it, how much design work and creative work went into it.”
“The clients were pretty blown away by the presentation and how seriously the students took it, how much design work and creative work went into it.”
Movement treating Carl’s students like a real advertising agency, he says, pushed his students to work harder and think more deeply about what they were developing. While many people might think of high school students as kids, Carl has always taught with the mindset that if he sets the bar high, students will always meet it.
Carl is constantly fielding questions from students following up on the potential for internships, whether at Movement or Warner Bros. He’s excited his team is eager to take what they’ve learned and bring it to agencies beyond ANDCreates.
“Transitioning to remote school was a challenge. Some of our communities were really affected by COVID,” Carl says. “And having this agency and partnership not only as a social outlet but as a professional outlet was a lifesaver.”